University of Vermont Transportation Research Center

Climate Adaptation and Resiliency Planning: Agency Roles and Workforce Development Needs

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This report is one of two NCST Research Reports produced as part of a project to evaluate the state of practice and adequacy of technical tools for resiliency and adaptation planning. A companion report, Network Requirements for Assessing Criticality for Climate Adaptation Planning, focuses specifically on the technical challenges of conducting criticality assessment for climate adaptation and resiliency planning. Because climate change is increasing the intensity and frequency of many extreme weather events, climate adaptation and resiliency planning are increasingly important tasks for transportation agencies at all levels of government. While specific climate threats and adaptation needs varies by location throughout the United States, all agencies face challenges in terms of resource availability (including staffing levels and staffing expertise) and the quality of the technical tools for adaptation planning. In 2015, the University of Vermont Transportation Research Center conducted a survey of planning organizations in the U.S. concerning climate adaptation planning intended to assess the adaptation planning capacity, workforce development needs, and current preparation levels of local and state agencies as well as the adequacy of currently available technical tools. The survey consisted of 14 multiple choice or open-ended questions and garnered 154 respondents, including representatives from planning organizations, state transportation agencies and others involved in transportation planning. Respondents in this study affirmed that workforce development is an important part of advancing climate adaptation and resiliency planning. More work is needed in examining the workforce development needs of transportation agencies by factors such as region and type of organization. In addition, a higher level of specificity of the skills and qualifications is needed to inform development of new training, new hires, and educational curriculum that prepares the future workforce. The authors' recommendations include additional targeted funding, developing a continuum of workforce development offerings, developing professional communities of practice and using online technology as a platform for climate adaptation planning workforce development.